By utilizing Modeling Instruction methodology, I have transformed my science classroom to be more inclusive, more inquiry-based and more robust.
I remember standing in the hallway with a giant pendulum swinging back and forth in front of me and the workshop facilitator asking us to determine the length of the pendulum. Never had I ever experienced a moment like this in any professional development workshop I had attended. I recognized at that moment that I had been approaching science teaching all wrong. My students were not challenged to develop models to solve problems nor were they encouraged to collaborate with their classmates to work out a solution. A transformation in my understanding of the role teachers should have in a science classroom began as I watched that pendulum swing back and forth. The equipment was so simple and yet the thought process involved in problem-solving was more complex than anything I had asked my students to engage in within the classroom.
Scientific endeavors begin through inquiry. Teachers utilizing traditional "sit and get" teaching methods must transform their practice to more inquiry-based strategies like those in a Modeling Instruction (MI) classroom. Often MI begins with activity before content and is the antithesis of traditional teaching methods. Engaging students in laboratory experiences before delving into the vocabulary and conceptual explanations affords students the opportunity to explore and have their own ideas and predictions.
Science classrooms should embody the principles of the scientific process. The scientific process includes how scientists search for answers to scientific questions by making observations, conducting experiments, analyzing data, and discussing their findings within the scientific community. Models drive questions, and those questions drive and inform experimentation.